Drug overdose death statistics from 2020 brought the nation’s mental health crisis to the forefront. As coronavirus surges rippled through the country, lost jobs, forced isolation, and broken support networks contributed to record-breaking increases in substance use and overdose deaths nationwide. While every state witnessed an increase in overdoses, drug overdose deaths by state indicate that Louisiana saw one of the largest increases in 2020.
The year 2020 proved difficult in ways that could have never been predicted. Understandably, immeasurable stress encouraged many to turn to substance use to cope. Sadly, this coping mechanism led many to dependence, addiction, and overdose. In Louisiana, this has not gone unnoticed.
To bring attention to this substance abuse and mental health crisis, the Bayou State recognizes two days to commemorate those affected by substance use disorders. Locally, Louisiana now recognizes July 28 as Opioid Crisis Awareness Day. Additionally, August 31 is Overdose Awareness Day, a day of remembrance that is recognized both nationally and internationally.
Drug Overdose Deaths By State
Preliminary drug overdose statistics for 2020 indicate that nearly 20,000 more people died of a drug overdose in 2020 than in 2019. In addition, drug overdose deaths by state reveal that over half the country witnessed a more than 30% increase in fatalities. In addition, ten of these states saw a more than 40% increase in overdose deaths.
Louisiana specifically suffered a 48% increase in drug overdose deaths during the 2020 calendar year. The Bayou State followed behind only:
- Vermont (57%),
- Kentucky (54%),
- South Carolina (52%), and
- West Virginia (49%).
As far as national demographics are concerned, every age and ethnicity saw an increase in deaths. However, this was especially true for younger people, males, and people of color. This is not to say that whites did not experience an increase in overdose deaths, only that the increase among other races in 2020 was greater.
Opioids Still Driving Force of Overdose Deaths
The main cause of overdose deaths can still be attributed to opioids. The distribution of fentanyl has had an enormous impact on drug overdose deaths by state and nationwide. This was true prior to the coronavirus outbreak but was amplified by the pandemic. For example, according to the CDC, synthetic opioids like fentanyl were blamed for about 15% of overdose deaths in 2015. In 2020, this number jumped to 60%.
Some of the reasons that fentanyl is so frequently found in toxicology reports are that it is cheap, relatively easily obtained, and can be slipped into just about any drug as a cutting agent. Fentanyl is also many times stronger than drugs like morphine, making dosing especially dangerous. This synthetic opioid is even being found in places where it’s not expected, such as in stimulant drugs like cocaine and methamphetamines.
Taking Note with International Overdose Awareness Day
To bring attention to the overdose crisis, a global day of reflection is reserved on August 31. Overdose Awareness Day started in Australia in 2001 and quickly caught on to other parts of the world. The day gives friends and family members a time to remember those lost to overdose and to find a way forward. To show support for overdose awareness you’re encouraged to wear silver or purple and tobecome involved in overdose awareness events in your area.
Mental Health and Addiction in Louisiana
Addiction is usually not a stand-alone disease. Rather, it is intertwined with either chronic or acute mental health stressors. Examples of mental health conditions that correspond with addiction are:
- Anxiety Disorders
- Bipolar Disorder
- Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
- Psychotic Illnesses
- Borderline Personality Disorder
- Antisocial Personality Disorder
Fortunately, these many of these conditions respond well to mental health treatment. In addition, treatment for mental illness can be combined with addiction treatment in a dual diagnosis program. In this way, both mental health and addiction can be assessed to see how one is affecting the other.
Mental Health Help in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
At our Louisiana mental health hospital, we offer adult psychiatric programs in both inpatient and outpatient formats. In addition, we offer a dual diagnosis program to address any accompanying addiction and can assist in crisis stabilization. At Baton Rouge Hospital we understand that no two patients are the same, and we provide individualized options to cater to your recovery needs.